Unlocking the wonders of the North
The Philippines is a country abounding with wonders that are delicately designed by nature and intricately made by the hands of Filipinos. These wonders are present in every part of the country, which satisfies the thirst of local and international tourists. One area in the Philippines where these natural and man-made wonders are found is Northern Luzon. With provinces like Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Pampanga, everyone will be left in awe when they witness what awaits them. And the best way to reach these wonders is through NLEX.
What is NLEX?
As a premier company in the Philippines, NLEX is dedicated to developing, designing, constructing, financing, operating, and supervising toll road projects. One of its top projects is two major expressways, the NLEX and SCTEX, that connect Metro Manila to North and Central Luzon.
As two of the major expressways used by Filipinos on a daily basis, these expressways are prone to congestion due to the multitude of travelers who pass by. One of the solutions to address this is the use of RFID stickers. These RFID stickers enable travelers to pass through toll gates without the need to pay cash or interact with staff. The result is a more convenient and hassle-free journey on NLEX.
If you find yourself navigating on NLEX and equipped with ample time, you better feed your thirst for wanderlust, because NLEX is a gateway to some of the provinces that are home to the best attractions in North Luzon that include heritage sites, natural wonders, and recreational facilities:
- Bulacan: There are a variety of places and spots that you can visit in Bulacan, and one is Hiyas ng Bulacan Museum. This local museum displays historical items from the Philippine Revolution, such as articles, mementos, documents, handicrafts, and relics. If you want to feast your eyes on architectural designs, Bulacan also prides itself on infrastructure such as the historic Barasoain Church in Malolos, Casa Real Shrine, and Camestisuhan, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Church.
After visiting those destinations, you might get hungry, and there’s no better way to feed your stomach than Bulacan’s local restaurants. Kalye Mabini and Casie’s are some of the restaurants that can offer you a gastronomical fusion of Filipino and European cuisines.
- Pampanga: Known as the gastronomic capital of the Philippines because of its multitude of Filipino cuisines, Pampanga has a lot to offer. When it comes to preserving history and promoting local culture, the Pamintuan Mansion Heritage House houses artifacts from different ethnic groups in the country. If you are looking for sustainable farming practices, Tibby’s Farm is the best place for you. From freshly grown produce to farm animals, your appreciation for nature and what it can provide will be reignited. But if you are traveling with kids or those who love the adrenaline rush, Aqua Planet is the best place for you. As a 10-hectare water theme park, it is considered one of the largest and most modern water parks in Asia. It offers 28 world-class water thrill facilities, enough to satisfy your inner adventure junkie.
To cap off the day, you can have dinner at Zoocobia while watching animal shows. After that, you can also enjoy a chill wine night and bonfire at El Kabayo Clark Stables Picnic Grounds.
- Nueva Ecijia: Now the roads have shifted and we are heading to the "Rice Granary of the Philippines". This province is for nature lovers. Be captivated by the verdant view of Colosboa Hills, which serve as an excellent playground for bikers and a good spot for a sumptuous local breakfast while being kissed by fresh air and marveling at the view of Mt. Bangcay. Visitors to Nueva Ecjija can also bask in the beauty of its bodies of water through its lakes, such as the Libsung Lake. They can ride in Balinese-style floating huts and villas while enjoying dishes made of fresh and local produce.
Another gem of Nueva Ecija is the town of Pantabangan. With the Pantabangan Dam and the mighty mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre, you will be left enthralled and wanting for more. For those who want to feel closer to nature, they can also visit the Forest Garden, which is an agritourism destination that allows them to have a view of a sea of clouds.
- Tarlac: As a fast-rising tourist destination, Tarlac is keeping up with other provinces in North Luzon. To know the province better, you can visit Diwa ng Tarlac, which is a community center showcasing Tarlac’s multifaceted beauty through its paintings, sculptures, and photographs made by homegrown local artists. Another center to help visitors know Tarlac is the Aquino Center and Museum. This contains some personal items, photographs, and memorabilia from the Aquino family. Other items also show some important aspects of Philippine history. Tarlac is also known for its many establishments that can satisfy those cravings. Some of these are the Borough Pizza Pub, which brings you the taste of Italy through its pasta and pizza, and The Boss Rotisserie by Mang Ben’s Lechon with its Lechon Sisig and Lechon Shawarma, among others.
Using RFID Stickers on NLEX
After knowing some of the many gems of the North, you better get on the road and visit them as soon as possible. And if you do, make sure that you have already installed an RFID sticker on your vehicles. The Easytrip RFID is the exclusive electronic toll payment system on tollways managed by MPTC. These tollways are ones one should pass when traveling to various provinces in Northern and Central Luzon.
When using this toll payment system, an easytrip RFID sticker will be placed on the vehicle’s windshield or plate number. These stickers will be read by an RFID scanner before the vehicle enters a toll gate. Once scanned, the system will deduct the specific toll fee and open the toll gate. This electronic device enables travelers to pass through toll gates with ease and convenience and eliminates the need for face-to-face cash transactions.
Tips and Tricks for NLEX Travelers
Traversing long roads like NLEX that entail long hours of travel can be both fun and exhausting. So to avoid the latter, make sure that you check the traffic updates to know when the perfect time is to avoid rush hours. Furthermore, doing research on the available stopovers and rest stops on NLEX is beneficial, as it would allow you to manage your time and know when to stop at these places. There are varieties of those kinds of establishments in NLEX; choose a stopover that is holistic in terms of its services, such as the NLEX Drive and Dine, which houses numerous establishments that range from fuel stations, restaurants, retail stores, convenience stores, and premium retail stores.
Other ways to make your journey on NLEX more fun and enjoyable are to bring snacks to nibble, gadgets to play when bored, and your all-time favorite playlist to take your mind off the long road and long journey.
As our country transitions into post-pandemic times, new and old practices are occurring. One is the magic and joy of traveling to different places without the need for strict restrictions and other intense protocols. So if you want to fill that Instagram feed or cure that travel longing, what are you waiting for? Northern and central Luzon and its many wonders are waiting for you.
To make your travel more smooth and hassle-free, install an RFID sticker now, and if you already have one, ensure that you have sufficient load to pass through various toll gates. And to have access to various road services as well as plan your trip wisely by easily transacting with different expressways, download the MPT Drivehub. This mobile application is the perfect travel companion when exploring NLEX and the many provinces of the North.